The on-going China-UK Women's Cultural Festival highlights understanding through exchanges among people from sports, business, cultural and political circles in the two countries.
The festival, sponsored by All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), the Office of the Mayor of London and China Now, a national celebration of Chinese culture in Britain in the run up to the Beijing Olympics in August, unveiled itself on Sunday, when young performers from the China Children's Center joined the Chinese New Year celebration in central London with dances, traditional Chinese music and Gong Fu.
The Forum on Women and the Olympics and Paralympics focused on how women in Beijing get prepared with the coming games through various campaigns.
No one could have been more persuasive about women's participation in the games than Olympic champion Deng Yaping, who is also member of International Olympic Committee, offered a vivid picture of Chinese women and Olympics.
When New China was founded in 1949, she told the forum, the Chinese government advocated gender equality by encouraging women to participate in all activities including sports. Some 60 years on, China is witnessing an unprecedented growth of women's sports.
During the past six Summer Olympic Games, said Deng, who is also deputy director of Olympic Village Department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 29th Games, Chinese athletes have won 112 gold medals, of which 65 were obtained by women athletes.
While women in sports are represented, a photography exhibition Women in China was also launched in London, showcasing women's life in modern China.
From fashion, culture and entertainment to the Olympics, the exhibition of some 70 photos presents to the British public the changing lives of Chinese women in the 21st century.
"This is the first time China holds an exhibition about women in Britain," said Gu Xiulian, vice chairperson of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC) and president of ACWF, at the opening ceremony of the exhibition.
"The photos show how Chinese women participate in the country's social and economic life, promoting harmony and progress. They also demonstrate women's aspirations for freedom, equality and happiness," she said.
A popular variety performance dubbed The Same Song-let's sing together brought the festival to a climax with a rich and modern version of cultural life in China.
Chinese women entrepreneurs also came to the spotlight at the festival. During a special session with Ma Chunying, deputy general manager of Beijing Yili Food Company, and Wu Xiuping, vice president and secretary general of Beijing Women Entrepreneurs' Association, elaborated on business in China and answered questions on women's healthcare, start-up operations, and other aspects of women in business.
What's more, during the week-long festival, Gu Xiulian met Helene Hayman, the first ever woman speaker of the House of Lords, and Alan Haselhurst, deputy speaker of the House of Commons, and briefed them on China's political system and the institutional structure of China's NPC.
She also met with London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Tessa Jowell, British Olympics minister about China's national policy of equality between man and woman as well as women's development in the populous country.
Chinese Ambassador to Britain Fu Ying has hailed the festival as a catalyst for bilateral exchanges, presenting Chinese women as independent and confident.
The year 2008 is not only the year of Beijing Olympics but also marks the 30th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. As Zhao Shaohua, vice-president of ACWF, noted, the festival is a platform for bilateral exchanges through culture, sports, business and politics, getting people from the outside feel for themselves what opening up and an inclusive culture brings to China.
(Xinhua News Agency February 16, 2008)